Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Release: Caught by A.B. Gayle


Well, good morning all.  I've been seriously neglecting my poor blog.  I have lots going on, and much to tell, but it's going to have to wait because AB Gayle has a new one out today; another I've been waiting for.  And... she was kind enough to let me post a nice long excerpt.   

heehee,  I love posting those.  Enjoy.  



Description:

When Daniel's invalid landlady asks for his help preventing a possible suicide from the clifftop near their home, he doesn't want to disappoint her. So he grits his teeth, picks up his camera, and goes out to play the Chinese tourist. He's done it before: befriended the lonely, lured them away from the danger zone, acted as a safety net.

This time, the figure staring out to sea is way out of his league, his complete opposite, the sort of man Daniel's always admired from afar. Then the attractive Taylor turns the tables and lures Daniel out from behind the safety of his camera, and as Daniel finds himself fighting off an attraction he can't deny, he realizes he's in danger of being caught. Will the camera expose truths about himself that he wants to keep hidden?

Category: Novellas
Book Type: Caught by A.B. Gayle eBook
------------------------
Excerpt~

Chapter 1

“What do you think, Daniel?”

I peered through Connie’s binoculars and adjusted the viewfinder. From this angle all I could see was the back of a bald man sitting on a wooden bench facing the sea. “How long has he been there?”

“An hour,” she said. “Fifty minutes too long in my book, and he’s hardly moved the whole time.”

“He could just be waiting for someone.” The lines around her mouth tightened. Maybe her crippling arthritis was causing her grief? No, it was more than that. She was close to tears. Bad memories? She’d mentioned some anniversary this morning but hadn’t gone into details.

She sighed. “If he was expecting someone, you think he’d glance around whenever a car pulled up or check his watch, but he hasn’t done either.”

“Do you want me to go down?”

Connie took the binoculars from me and winced as she settled back in her wheelchair. “If you’re not too busy…. He might just be waiting ’til it gets dark, and it’s nearly five p.m. now.”

“Okay. I’ll go get changed.” It wasn’t as if I had anything else to do. Saturday evenings had been nonevents ever since I’d told two-timing Timothy to go suck his own dick, so tonight’s highly anticipated entertainment had been staying home and playing the latest version of “Street Fighter” on the Xbox. I ran down the steps to my ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment and pulled off my red “I’m only two people short of a Ménage à Trois” T-shirt. Unfortunately that and my carefully frayed designer jeans wouldn’t suit the part I needed to play.

After switching to tan flared dress pants, dark brown polyester button-up shirt, and matching dark brown dress shoes, I grabbed my camera bag, cell phone, and wallet and headed out the door. Normally I wouldn’t be seen dead in gear like that, but the majority of Asian tourists dressed conservatively, so if I wanted to pretend that I was one, I needed to do the same. My long ponytail might look out of place, but no way was I cutting that off. Eccentric Chinese geek was the best description Connie and I could come up with to describe my disguise.

For once the sound of air brakes being applied was music to my ears. Most mornings I felt like wringing the bus drivers’ necks as they pulled up and disrupted my beauty sleep. But that was what I’d learned to deal with ever since moving into the old brick house opposite one of Sydney’s popular tourist destinations.

My cell phone vibrated as I waited for a break in the traffic. I checked the ID—Connie.

“Perfect timing, Daniel. You should be able to watch him without being noticed. He’ll just think you’re part of the tour group.”

Most of the dismounting passengers were honeymoon couples in their midtwenties. I snorted. I’d blend in with this lot, no sweat. They were from Korea, but most Australians wouldn’t detect the difference.

After inserting the earpiece, I merged with the tourists. If I remained silent, everyone would assume I was listening to an MP3 player.

Connie’s familiar tinkling laughter followed. “From up here you all look like fish schooling around their leader.”

I could see what she meant. The tourists were following the guide around as he pointed out the city skyline and the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge visible behind a distant headland. “Stand near the ones having their photos taken against the cliff edge railing,” she said. “You should be able to see the man better from there.”

I didn’t need to check the upstairs window to know her binoculars were trained on me. We had some prearranged hand signals. A quick swipe across the bottom of my nose was a no, rubbing my jaw meant yes, and scratching my head indicated “I don’t know” or maybe.

To make sure I didn’t look like a flea-ridden monkey, she’d worked out the best way to phrase her questions in our one-sided conversation.

I did what she suggested and caught my first front-on glimpse of the target. He was ignoring the exotic specimens of Foreign touristae, as Connie liked to call them, and he hadn’t spotted me. Good. My cover was still working.

A deep scowl creased his forehead, and his hunched shoulders and tense posture screamed go away.

“How old is he?” Connie asked. “Under twenty?”

Ever since I’d started helping her, I’d found the younger ones much easier to approach. They usually succumbed to my lures after a few minutes of casual chatting, allowing me to reel them in without too much difficulty, particularly those who were gay. Been there, done that, I’d tell them. After you realize in your midteens that you fancy the quarterbacks more than the cheerleaders, your future can seem pretty fucked up.

I’d managed to convince a few desperate kids to hang on to life and talk to their parents. Pity I’d never managed to do the latter. My parents still didn’t accept my sexuality. In the end flight had been easier than fight.

No, this guy was definitely older than twenty. I gave my nose a quick swipe.

“Over thirty?” she asked.

Hard to tell. He had those high cheekbones that looked good into old age; plus he’d shaved off all his hair. Camouflaging early-onset baldness, or a fashion statement? I scratched my head.

“Over forty?”

I swiped my nose again. Definitely not, thank goodness. The older ones were the hardest to help. So many triggers could send them over the edge, literally. They were also more wary of my motive for speaking to them.

“What do you think, Daniel? Was I right to be worried?”

The all-important question—was the guy on the seat contemplating suicide?

I scratched my head. If she was right, my task was to make a connection, a line: linking the target to life. But what would make a guy like him take such a drastic step?

Connie started with the first of our standard questions. It helped to get some idea of motive first. “Could he be having money problems?” she asked.

I checked my target out while around me, couples and groups lined up to have their photos taken against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

Tight-fitting, denim-clad legs were stretched out straight in front, and his tan R.M. Williams elastic-side boots were crossed at the ankles like a fish’s tail. His body filled out his jeans to perfection. Hm, not bad. I gave myself a mental slap over the wrists. Down, boy. You’re supposed to be checking out the clothes, not what’s inside them. Okay, they were neat but not expensive. Somehow I couldn’t imagine him worrying about possessions. I wiped my nose.

“Any sign of a wedding ring?”

After switching to my zoom lens, I turned to capture the view back up the hill. Now I could check the guy out without being too obvious.

His crossed arms emphasized the bulge of his biceps as they strained against his black T-shirt. His left hand was exposed, meaning the chances he was left-handed were high. I rubbed my jaw, then wiped my nose. A pale circle on his third finger indicated he’d worn a ring for a long period of time but not recently, because the faded section nearly blended with his tan. Drat, the guy must be straight.

“He was married, but not now,” she said.

I rubbed my jaw again. She snorted, and I grinned. We were getting good at this.

“Does he look… sick?”

Sick? Yeah, as in totally sick, dude. The guy could have posed for one of those Sexy Bad Boy apps on Facebook. If he was in the terminal stages of some incurable illness, there certainly weren’t any symptoms showing. I wiped my nose.

“What else might bring him here? Depression?

Connie and I had discussed this over dinner one night, soon after I started acting as her assistant. “How would I be able to tell?” I’d asked her. Although she wasn’t a psychiatrist, she had been trained as a volunteer counselor for Lifeline.

“You can’t,” she’d replied. “Often they hide the condition from their partners and family. All you can do is encourage them to talk, and once they do, you have to listen to what they’re really saying. The second you feel concerned, signal me so I can contact Emergency Services.”

I scratched my head as I stared at the guy. Most people suffered from depression in one form or another over time. Connie dealt with hers by volunteering for different charities—things she could do from home, such as making regular phone calls to elderly people who lived alone to ensure they were okay and, of course, watching the cliff top.

When life got me down, I buried myself in my work or blew the crap out of aliens or thugs in my computer games. I would have preferred sex, but ever since I’d broken up with Timothy, that had been virtually nonexistent.

The guide came close to the railing. Even though I couldn’t speak Korean, I knew what he was talking about. This stretch of coastline with its sheer hundred-foot cliffs was notorious because of all the suicides and murders over the years. Despite the fact that the edge was fenced along its entire length and had sections covered by 24-hour CCTV, desperate people still found their way over or around the barrier.

The tourists craned their necks to see. From our high vantage point, the waves surging below didn’t seem large, but they would hit the jagged rocks at the bottom and send spray high in the air before the shattered droplets fell like glistening diamonds. Sandstone may be soft and quick to erode, but for anybody thrown against its unforgiving surface, whether by the force of a pounding wave or falling, the result was the same.

Why had he stayed here so long? He didn’t fit the profile. No signs of nervousness or the effects of drugs or alcohol. Just a typical Aussie: confident, self-assured. Most I’d met were obsessed with football of one kind or another and cricket. Two subjects I found dead boring.

The chatter around me increased, so I took the opportunity to talk to Connie. “I don’t think I can do this. This guy’s way out of my league.”

“Nonsense, Daniel, stop being so negative. He’s just a man, same as you are. Look out. The tour party’s going. Talk to him. See if you can work out what his intentions are. If you want to land a big fish, be prepared for a duel, but you can do it. Patience and persistence are all you need.” She ended the call, and I turned back to survey my target.

Ever since I’d arrived, the slight scowl hadn’t left his face, but as soon as the bus left, his expression changed. The annoyance disappeared to be replaced by bleakness, as if something vital had broken inside and life had no purpose anymore.

Suddenly I felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. This guy might have been pretending to be in control, but inside he must be hurting like crazy. The other frequent trigger for jumping was a broken heart. Was that the problem? Had he loved someone so much that losing them made life no longer worth living?

I turned to stare out to sea. A stiff easterly wind had whipped up whitecaps on the choppy swell, but apart from a container ship in the distance, the ocean was empty. You could so easily lose yourself in the vast expanse. Was he thinking the same thing? Had he stood here earlier and glanced over the edge at the crashing waves below?

My movement must have attracted his attention, for when I turned to check on him, he glared at me briefly before turning away. I ignored him, walked farther along the fence line, and leaned over. Areas covered by water at high tide had a slimy, dark green tinge, but the wind-scoured surface of the rest had the beautiful orange, yellow, and pale gray hues so typical of Sydney sandstone. Even though the clifftop had such a terrible reputation, I never tired of finding the beauty here. While gathering courage to make the approach, I took a couple more shots.

Okay, Dannii, you’ve set the scene…. I spun around with my camera ready. He was watching me now, almost as if he could see me as clearly as I could see him, although I knew most of my face would be hidden.

What sort of bait would he respond to?

I let the SLR digital camera fall onto its neck strap and slowly walked over until I stood ten feet away. Not close enough to make him uncomfortable, but near enough to make contact.

I opened my mouth to begin speaking in my usual fake-accented broken English, but something in his expression made me pause. His eyes seemed to bore right into me, exposing everything inside. I changed my mind and spoke in my normal voice.

“’Scuse me. Someone told me there’s a lighthouse around here. Is it very far?”

His brows rose, and I stifled a smile. My American accent often had that effect, especially when someone had me pegged as an Asian tourist.

“No.” After that initial glance of surprise, he’d dropped his gaze. I could hear air passing through his nose as his breathing grew shallow, impatient.

The quiet type, huh? If I was going to make that connection and lead him away from the vicinity of the cliff, I needed to get him talking, to address meinstead of his boots. “No… there isn’t a lighthouse?” I asked. “Or no… it’s not far?”

He snorted. “Yes, there is a lighthouse, and no, it isn’t far.”

“Oh.” Still not biting. “How far is not far?”

He let out a deep sigh that almost rivaled the air brakes on the bus. “About a kilometer.” He jerked his head, indicating the direction.

Each time after he spoke, he switched his gaze back to his boots.

“A kilometer? I’m sorry. I just can’t seem to get a handle on all these Aussie measurements. How long would it take to walk there?”

He coolly assessed me, starting at my head and ending at my feet. “You’d probably manage it in ten minutes.”

Wow, settle down, Dannii, he’s just looking at you. “Great, it’s not far, then.”

The toe of his boot started tapping a slow, deliberate beat. Getting to you, am I, buddy? Good. If he thought I’d give up that easily, he had another think coming. “You see, I have a problem. I need someone to take my picture with the lighthouse in the background. I’ve tried the old hold-the-camera-in-front-point-and-click method, hoping for the best, but I always end up with half my head cut off. Maybe I should have bought a simpler camera.”

He flashed a glance of annoyance at my Pentax. Strange reaction.

“Why didn’t you get your mates on the bus to help you?”

“I’m not with them. Just seeing the sights on my own. Anyway, I don’t speak Korean.” I didn’t move and kept my most clueless smile pasted on my face.

He was handsome enough when he scowled. What would he be like if he smiled? The wedding-ring mark suggested he wasn’t gay, or was he? His gaze had lingered on my body during the tip-to-toe scan. Almost appreciative.

I ignored his obvious reluctance to become involved. This first connection was always the hardest. “My mom has this thing about me and lighthouses. If there’s one around, I have to have my photo taken. She’s got a picture of me standing at Dunnet Head, the extreme northern tip in Scotland, and lots of others: Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, Cape Foulwind in New Zealand. I need one in Sydney to add to the collection.”

This time he actually looked at my face. I’m good at keeping my thoughts hidden. The speculation in his gaze showed he was probably asking himself,Is he a bullshit artist? Does he still live with his mother? Has he really been to these places?

I could almost tell what he thought the answers would be. Yes, yes, and maybe.

He was dead wrong. They were yes, no, and no.

At last he got the message that I wasn’t going anywhere. He uncrossed his legs, planted his boots on the concrete path, and slowly uncurled until he towered above me. At well over six feet and wearing heeled boots, he was a very big fish indeed. I swallowed.

“Come on, then.” He started walking toward the lighthouse.

It took a couple of seconds to sink in that I’d been successful. I’d been expecting the battle to be harder. Now I had to do an awkward jog to catch up. Once this guy decided on something, he sure moved fast.

“Daniel Ho.” I held out my right hand as I hurried along. I probably looked an idiot, but the less of a threat I appeared, the more likely my chance of success.

My companion stopped as suddenly as he’d started and clasped my hand. The dry firmness also didn’t fit the profile. Usually my target’s state of mind was reflected in their grip—invariably moist but often with an almost bone-shattering intensity, as if they welcomed the chance to have a strong connection with another human at this critical stage in their life.

Almost immediately he dropped my hand and headed off, grunting something that sounded a bit like “Tailor.”

Even after he let go, my skin still tingled. “What did you say?” I called out. Then I had to run to catch up, as he was already way ahead of me again. He didn’t stop until he stepped up onto the foot-high rim of a circular concrete structure.

Now he was even taller by comparison. When I walked up the hill, my gaze was level with his crotch. Nice one. I couldn’t help staring at his large package before I raised my eyes. One side of his mouth curled up in a sly grin. Fuck, he caught me looking.

“T-A-Y-L-O-R.”

His deep voice and slight Aussie drawl stirred something deep inside. I nodded and smiled. “Thanks for your help, Taylor.”

“No worries. How about standing here, and I’ll take your picture?”

Remember, Dannii, you’re a tourist. Act clueless. “What are you standing on?” I asked and blinked as if confused. Didn’t require much acting ability. Funny how the brain works better when all the blood hasn’t gone elsewhere.

His eyes twinkled as he looked down at me. “Believe it or not, at the end of the nineteenth century, Australia feared it would be invaded by the Russians. This is where one of the cannons was mounted.” He held out his hand for the camera.

“No, thanks, I don’t like my photo being taken.”

His eyes narrowed. I gripped my Pentax tightly and returned his gaze without flinching. It was the truth. I much preferred to be on the other side of the lens. “I only need one of me in front of the lighthouse for my mother.”

Taylor jumped down and strode off. I took a couple of shots of the concrete structure to keep up my cover and followed. His jeans were tight enough to show off the muscles in his butt. I muttered to myself, “Much as I enjoy the sight of your delectable denim-covered ass, I wish you’d walk a bit slower.”

Taylor stopped and turned to face me. Whoops, my voice must have carried more than I’d intended. At least the frown had disappeared. I smiled innocently, as if I’d never said anything. Hopefully he’d assume he misheard me.

“There’s a signal station up ahead, Daniel,” he drawled. “Do you want to take some photos there?” His eyebrows rose as I shook my head.

“Not really. I’m more into the different shapes and colors in nature than buildings or people.” I glanced around and pointed to a flowering prickly-pear cactus growing on the other side of the fence. “Like that.” Without waiting for his reaction, I switched lenses back to the zoom and took a few close-ups of the soft, yellow flower and the way it contrasted with the orange spikes on its fleshy green stem.

When I replaced the lens cap, he tilted his head and enquired drily, “Finished?”

I grinned and ignored the sarcasm in his voice. “Yes, thanks. Sorry for taking so long. I hope I’m not keeping you away from anything important.”

He shook his head. “No, nothing important… not now.”

As he said the words, he glanced sideways at me as if surprised by his own comment. Then he set off again. I stayed rooted to the spot for a moment, my breath hitching at the warmth in his brown eyes; then I followed. Taylor slowed immediately and waited for me to catch up. He had heard my earlier comment.

“What part of the States are you from?”

“How did you know I wasn’t Canadian?”

He snorted. “You don’t say ‘eh’ at the end of every sentence.”

Fair enough. “I spent most of my life in Boston, but my family moved back to Hong Kong after dad retired.” Close enough to the truth. I’d actually been born in Australia, and we’d migrated to the States when I was four. Still, he didn’t need to know that.

As we walked, I spun out more of the cover story Connie and I had dreamed up. A mix of fact and fiction, starting with the falsehood of my arrival in Sydney a week before and ending with another, stating I’d be leaving in a few days. Was he even listening? Hard to tell, as he didn’t comment beyond the occasional grunt.

Taylor crossed to the cliff fence that still lined the path through the park and pointed up the hill. “The lighthouse is just over there.”

As soon as we reached our destination, he’d take my photo and leave. Damn, I was having fun. Now that his initial hostility had disappeared, he wasn’t so scary.

A broad expanse of sandstone poked through the grass near our feet. The sun was casting interesting shadows on parts of the rock eroded by wind and rain. I turned my charm on to maximum and flashed him my best smile. Connie always gave me a tap over the wrist when I tried those out on her, saying I needed to be careful where I directed them. Lethal, she called them. “Do you mind if I take a few shots here? I’ll try to be quick.”

He stared at me for a second and blinked. “No, take your time. It’s fine. Like I said, I’ve nothing else to do.”

Viewed through the macro lens, while the large grains of sand at the base magnified into rocks, other sections took on the appearance of full-scale cliffs. I clicked away happily. For a second, lost in concentration, I forgot all about lighthouses and clifftops. When I glanced up, Taylor was leaning against the fence, his foot propped against the base and his knee jutting out in front. His hands were buried deep in his pockets while he stared at the ground. All he needed was a sombrero tipped low on his head and he’d be the perfect picture of the classic Mexican hombre, sheltering patiently in the shade. I adjusted the zoom and snapped a photo of him.

Timothy would have been bugging me to hurry up and finish before I took the first picture. I didn’t get the impression Taylor was impatient—more the opposite… content to wait.

“Thanks, that’s enough. Up to the lighthouse now, eh?” I emphasized the last word and grinned at his sudden suspicious glance. Was I teasing him? Yep. He needed to stop taking himself so seriously.

I don’t know what he’d been thinking about, but when his eyes focused and met my gaze, his expression was more alert, more intense. Careful, Dannii, this guy doesn’t miss much.

We didn’t speak as we crossed the grassy hill leading to the large white structure. When I’d used this tactic previously, I’d asked my companion questions about when the lighthouse had been built and its name, but today those words died in my throat. I remained silent.

“How close do you need to be?” he asked quietly as we drew close.

“I’ll stand there.” I pointed to my usual spot. “Do you know how to work one of these?”

The slight upturn at the edge of his mouth grew larger. “I’ve used them once or twice.” He was definitely more attractive when he smiled.Concentrate, Dannii.

Given the Aussie habitual use of understatement, I translated “once or twice” as indicating he knew how a camera operated. However, to reinforce my role as a tourist and get close enough to ensure he took the bait properly, I removed the strap from my neck and held the Pentax up toward him. As he reached to take it, I stepped closer so my back brushed against his chest, and then I lifted the camera to one side. Now he could see the controls as I pointed at each one.

I shivered as warmth from his body flowed through to mine. The urge to lean back and sink into his heat almost overwhelmed me. Up close, his fresh pine aftershave seared my nostrils. I tried to stop my fingers from shaking as I showed him how to half depress the shutter to engage the autofocus capabilities. His large hand engulfed mine as he gently took the camera from my grasp. “I’ll be fine, Daniel.”

Before I went to my designated position, I glanced up at his face. He was staring at me as if he’d only just seen me. I blinked and shook my head slightly, making my ponytail flick against his arm. For a second I thought he was going to reach out and grab my hair, but his hand dropped in a clenched fist at his side.

I swallowed a few times to lubricate my throat as I lined up for the photo. I tried to tell myself my reaction was nothing more than recognition that my target had taken the bait, the only difference being that this was a bigger fish than usual.

Taylor took one shot and studied the result on the digital screen.

“Lean against there.” He pointed to a wooden fence surrounding the area.

“Like this?” I rested my elbow on top of one of the palings.

“No, like I was standing before.”

He tapped his foot on the ground, and I grinned inside as I followed his direction. He had a way of giving orders as if he expected to be obeyed. Taylor moved back, crouched down, and took a shot. He obviously needed that low angle to get the whole of the lighthouse in view.

As soon as he finished, I crossed back to his side and put out my hand. “Thanks. Can I have a look?”

He held the camera up in the air out of my reach and smiled. “Not yet. I want to try some different angles first.”

Despite my earlier desire for prolonging the encounter, I suddenly felt uncertain. “I told you I don’t like being photographed. Anyway, I’ve already taken up too much of your time.”

Taylor raised his eyebrow in a “don’t argue with me” expression.

I didn’t move and returned his challenge, my heart beating hard. After a few moments, he snorted and said, “Stubborn little bastard, aren’t you. Just indulge me, Daniel. What other lenses have you got?”

Being called a bastard didn’t faze me. I’d been in Australia long enough to recognize the word was almost a term of endearment rather than abuse. Showed they liked you. The “little” annoyed me, though. I was five-nine. Lots of guys were shorter than me. I handed him the bag and stared as he sorted through the gear.

He selected my wide-angle lens and switched it over like a seasoned pro. Seeing my astonishment, he grinned. “Okay, sprung! I’ll admit, I’ve used a camera more than twice. Now, stand in the same place, but this time, fold your arms on the top of the fence and lean on them as if you’ve been waiting for ages and need a rest.”

I tried the pose, but the fence was too low.

“That’s it. Now let one knee bend naturally and stick out that delectable ass of yours until you’re at the right height.” Shit, he had heard me. Taylor grinned briefly before lining up for another shot. Without moving the camera, he said, “Before you do, get rid of that bloody revolting shirt. It doesn’t suit you.”

If my heart had been beating hard before, it was racing now. The fact Taylor was right about the boring shirt didn’t help. Most of his face was still hidden by the camera. What was he thinking? There’d been a sardonic undercurrent in his voice, as if he was amusing himself at my expense.

Right, you want to play, buster? I’ll play. I licked my lips as I undid the buttons, running my fingers over my newly exposed chest each time. After a slow strip, I threw the shirt down and adopted the ass-out pose. Before settling my head on my folded arms, I winked back at him over my shoulder and closed my eyes as if I was asleep.

He muttered something softly that sounded suspiciously like “shit stirrer”. Then his voice spoke louder, much closer. “Nice muscles. Do you work out?” I tried to look up, but the gentle pressure of his hand kept my head turned to one side. “No. Stay like that. Relax. Remember you’ve been waiting for ages.” He rubbed my shoulders a few times, and the warm roughness of his hand against my bare skin sent shivers up and down my spine. How could I relax? After a few strokes, though, his touch became familiar, as if my body remembered and welcomed the contact. Gradually the tension seeped out.

“That’s better. Now stay there until I give you permission to move.” The masterful tone had returned. I shivered again as the warmth of his hand disappeared. The pose was easy to maintain, and after a while I almost did fall asleep. Despite the onshore breeze, the summer sun still radiated enough heat to stop me feeling cold.

Strange that he’d noticed my muscles. Not many people did. Most just saw my slimness, but the muscles were there. I just didn’t bulk up like some guys did.

“You can move now.”

I straightened and stretched, flexing my back.

“Well, do you work out?” he asked and switched lenses again.

As I walked over to pick up my shirt, I replied, “No, but I’ve got black belts in two disciplines: taekwondo and kung fu. Training for those keeps me in shape.” I turned, interested to see how he’d react.

“Wow. A regular Bruce Lee, hey? I better behave.”

I sniggered. He almost sounded disappointed. I stretched out my arm and put one hand into the sleeve.

“Wait, stop. Just like that.”

Now what?

He moved down the hill and lay prone on the grass, shooting upward. “Come on, Daniel. Show off those muscles of yours.”

I noticed the length of my shadow and the glint on the glass. “Isn’t the sun shining straight into the lens?”

“That’s what I want.”

I shook my head and felt my ponytail brush my shoulders.

“Bloody stupid thing.” He sounded seriously pissed off.

“What’s wrong?”

“Where’s the bloody motor drive on this camera?”

“Digital cameras have continuous action. You’re a bit behind the times, aren’t you?”

He glared at me. My little jibes were getting to him. “You know what I mean, smart-ass. I didn’t know how to…. Oh, never mind. Just pose for me.”

He must have finally worked out the action-capture settings. Soon he had me flicking my head from side to side, making my hair fly out in the stiff breeze. All the time he issued commands such as, “Shirt on”, “Shirt off”, “Stretch out your arms”, “Lift your chin”, “Hair out” or “Turn your head”. After a while I found myself obeying him automatically, even putting in my own variations once I worked out what he wanted.

It took me a while, but gradually I felt more comfortable…. Taylor’s repeated “Great” and “More” helped.

His whole face had changed from the moment I’d handed him the camera. Back near Connie’s house, apart from the brief flash of grief, his expression had been devoid of emotion. Now there was full focus. After a while the intermittent glimpses of almost frightening intensity whenever he lowered the Pentax became too much for me, so I gazed out to sea instead. How had my simple request for a souvenir happy snap led to this? I’d been so caught up in what was turning into a full-on photo shoot that I’d forgotten why we were there.

One thing I was pretty sure of: once Taylor decided on an action, he would carry it through efficiently and completely. If Connie had been correct, after we finished here, he’d return to the bench and carry out his intention at the first opportunity.

The world spun for a second as I pictured his body smashed against the rocks below. Bile rose in my throat, and I leaned over and retched. My skin felt cold and clammy until his warm body held mine.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Amora
    Thanks for featuring "Caught". Let me know what you think when you've read it.
    hugs
    A.B.Gayle

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Ab: Hi there. Thanks for the excerpt. :)

    This will be going with me on vacation! I'm very excited. :))

    *hugs*

    ReplyDelete

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